Between tradition and future
De Fusie (The Merger) is a new type of building that adjusts to a typical Dutch landscape and fits in the rich tradition of waterworks, which preserve the landscape for the future. De Fusie can be seen as a new Dutch Delta Works that unites tradition and future in a contemporary way.
The sea level rise is forcing us to think differently. Instead of a static defensive attitude towards water, it is better to move along with it. The static border between land and water is a thing of the past. It ties in with the perspective that Floris Alkemade explores in his book De toekomst van Nederland (The future of the Netherlands) where safety is not sought in fighting an all-powerful nature, but in working in harmony with the interplay of forces thereof. Similarly, there is no attempt to fight against water with De Fusie, but rather to work in harmony with it.
De Fusie is a structure in one of the dyke bodies of the double dyke along the Eems-Dollard estuary in Noord-Groningen. The building is a sustainable coastal defence, a dynamic water collection system and an agricultural innovation. As a result of the building, nature can develop and silt will be collected. In the building, the dynamic relationship between the inside and outside of the dykes, and between freshwater and salt water is made perceptible, researched and exploited.
De Fusie contains a sluice foundation that lets water in and out in a regulated manner. The smart culverts feed a number of experimentation polders for silt collection, a clay ripener and saline agriculture. A landscape observatory has been designed above this foundation, which offers ever-changing perspectives of the dynamic landscape. This observatory houses a ‘mud flat monastery’ with living spaces and workspaces where scientists can conduct long-term research into new approaches to water management, capturing and harvesting the silt and new forms of saline agriculture. At the same time, De Fusie is accessible to pupils, students and visitors.
The design is divided into narrow building elements that offer varied space to the scientists and house the public programme. Two routes connect the programme components, but also give the users privacy. The spatial construction facilitates encounters and exchanges, but there is also space for contemplation and reflection. The complex houses a variety of spaces, each with their own characteristic relationships with the landscape. For example, the living quarters of the scientists are positioned on the quiet polder side, while their workspaces are actually located on the more rugged side by the waters of the Eems-Dollard. The collective living room and study place are located between the two private quarters and have an open connection with the silt layer beneath and the moon and stars above.
The public spaces, such as the library, the lecture hall, the laboratory and the entrance are also connected with the landscape. A ‘monastery’ corridor and a raised path meander through these spaces. In this way, ingenious connections and encounters arise between the scientists, visitors and pupils who wander through the building.
Graduation committee: Machiel Spaan (mentor), Marlies Boterman, Philomene van der Vliet. Additional members for the exam: Rob Hootsmans, Jeroen Atteveld.